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Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Another episode of Eating the Fantastic … another helping of Kansas City BBQ.

As part of my quest to eat all the BBQ I could during this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, I ended up at Gates B-B-Q, since according to the word on the street (if the Internet can be considered the street), it’s one of the two best BBQ joints in Kansas, the other being Arthur Bryant’s.

Here’s a story of the difference between the two of them which may be apocryphal, but—I’ve heard that when candidates for political office come to town, they always head to Arthur Bryant’s for their photo ops—but the journalists, the crews running the cameras, the working stiffs following those candidates—they head to Gates. I have no idea whether that’s truth or fabulation, but it sure does make for a good story!

Joining me at Gates was the ridiculously talented Alyssa Wong, nominated at Worldcon for the The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and winner of the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” … which is also up for a World Fantasy Award. Whether or not she wins will be revealed at a banquet this Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.


Listen in as we chow down on BBQ and talk about what franchise inspired her to write fanfic, the exciting moment when she first encountered a character who looked like her, where she hopes to be 10 years down the road, how she encountered Faceless Ghost Grandma, why she said, “I hate being bored and I don’t like rules,” and more.

Here’s how you can share the BBQ and conversation—Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

27 October 2016 @ 11:29 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Seeing Carol Tilley lecture at the National Archives on the letters kids wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Special Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 defending comics books turned out not to be the only comics-related thing in my life this afternoon. Because as I was heading back to Union Station for my train home, I came upon the following street art which made political statements by tweaking actual covers from old comic books.

Here are the four I saw, accompanied by the original covers I tracked down.

activistcomics1 jimmyolsen127Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Carol Tilley—who’ll be speaking Thursday at the National Archives about letters kids wrote to the Senate defending comics in 1954—just posted over on Facebook the front page from the August 25, 1940 issue of Fantasy News … and I can’t resist sharing one part of it here.

Thomas S. Gardner, whose short fiction had been published in the ’30s in Wonder Stories, complained that the new science fiction comics were so inane as to cause some readers to give up on science fiction entirely. Plus comics (or so he claimed) were even damaging the reputation of science fiction—and the fans themselves.

Science Fiction is being guffawed, ballyhooed, and ridiculed out of existence. The readers and magazines are being classified as morons as a result of the comic books.

Luckily, though, the prescient Gardner predicted comic books wouldn’t be around for long.

The comic magazines are a fly-by-night affair in all probability. The fact that few appear for the second issue but start out with a new series hoping to sell the first copies is pretty good proof of their impermanence.

Gardner lived until 1963, after the Golden Age of comics had ended and the Silver Age had begun. Wonder whether that was long enough for him to change his mind?


You can read the issue in its entirety over at FANAC.


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

There’s only one more convention I plan to attend before the end of 2016, and it’s not the World Fantasy Convention, since I decided to give that stop on the circuit a pass this year. Instead, you’ll be able to find me at Chessiecon, which was highly recommended by this year’s Guest of Honor, Sarah Pinsker. And since I trusted her enough to invite her to be the first guest on my Eating the Fantastic podcast, I figured I could trust her on that as well.


If you make it to Timonium, Maryland at the end of November, here’s where you’ll be able to find me … aside from when I’m wandering the halls or hanging out in the bar, that is.

Saturday, November 26, 2:15 p.m.
I plan to read an excerpt from my short story “101 Things to Do Before You’re Downloaded,” which will appear in the upcoming anthology You, Human.

Stupendous Bollocks
Sunday, November 27, 1:45 p.m.
Our host asks obscure questions which exist not as much to be answered as to encourage panelists to tell us what they know (or what they can make up) about the subject. Points are awarded for interesting answers, regardless of their correctness or relevance to the original topic.
with Carl Cipra, Heather Rose Jones, Steve Kozeniewski, Elizabeth Schechter

I have no idea what that second item on my agenda will be like, but I look forward to finding out together. Hope to see you there!

18 October 2016 @ 02:25 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Sunday afternoon was one of the highlights of my year, because at the end of an extended weekend in New York—during which I recorded four new episodes of Eating the Fantastic—I got to take Marie Severin to lunch and then spend several hours sitting outside in the sun with her on an unseasonably warm October day.


And when I say I did those things, I of course mean we did those things—for any visit to the Mirthful one must include the Impish one—my wife, Irene Vartanoff.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

When recording a podcast in a restaurant setting, sometimes you have to deal with the background chatter of other customers, and sometimes you have to deal with music pouring from overhead speakers … but I never expected I’d have to deal with a speeding locomotive!

That’s right—in an Eating the Fantastic first, my guest and I had to contend with a freight train. Actually, more than just a freight train—but many freight trains.

When it came time for dinner at Fiorella’s Jack Stack, we were given the choice of a table either in the main dining room or out on the patio, and because I was afraid the loud music combined with the conversation of other customers would create an ambient noise you’d find distracting, I decided we should eat al fresco … not realizing there were railroad tracks nearby, which meant an occasional locomotive would pass. But don’t worry—I think you’ll find the result more amusing than annoying, especially when (as you’ll hear) one overly loud engine caused my guest and me to break into song.

My guest this episode is Hugo, Nebula, and Stoker Award nominated writer Adam-Troy Castro. Adam has published more than 100 short stories, some of which I was privileged to buy back when I edited Science Fiction Age magazine, plus a story someone else had the honor of purchasing—my all-time favorite zombie story.


We talked about the epiphany caused by his first viewing of Night of the Living Dead, how he handled a heckler during his early days doing stand-up comedy, the history behind the novel he almost wrote spinning off from the classic TV show The Prisoner, and much more. We even, for reasons you will learn, had cause to sing a few bars of the Johnny Cash classic “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Here’s how you can share the BBQ—Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

11 October 2016 @ 11:11 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

You know how I say that one of the best parts of any convention is leaving that convention for a meal with friends? (A belief, by the way, which eventually caused me to create my podcast Eating the Fantastic.) Well, the meal I had last Friday night during an escape from Capclave with Natalie Luhrs and Aaron and Angela Pound proved my point.

A couple of days before Capclave, I learned that Range—which I’d visited many times before, one of those times being for a meal on a break from last year’s Capclave—would be holding a two-day pop-up by Charleston’s Jeffrey Stoneberger, chef and owner of 2Nixons, which has earned itself quite a rep for its take on Asian street food. And the first of those two days happened to be the first day of the con. So you know I had to be there.


Stoneberger had previously staged at The Fat Duck and Noma, so you wouldn’t expect him to be the sort of chef to turn his hand to ramen and yakitori. But that’s what he’s done. And the food he put before us last Friday proved worthy of that lofty resume.

Here (rather belatedly, and briefly, as it’s been a crazy week) what we were served that night.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I can’t remember the first time I met Doug Fratz, but I know the first time we were under the same roof—though I don’t think I knew it at the time. It was in 1971, at Phil Seuling’s annual 4th of July Comic Art Convention, and thanks to Mike Zeck, a comics fan turned comic pro just like me, a photo turned up from that day a few years back.

Here we are more than 45 years ago …


That’s me in shadows to the left, in the front row as always, wearing my denim jacket emblazoned with studs and a barely visible “War is not healthy for children and other living things” patch. (Yes, I was a hippie.) And there to the right, half a dozen rows back, is Doug, his hair at the time equally as long as mine, if not longer.

I have no idea what panel we were waiting for when Mike ran to the front of the room and snapped a photo of the crowd, or whether Doug and I actually met that weekend. No matter. We met sometime within the next few years, and I became a constant reader of his fanzine Thrust, which eventually changed its name to Quantum, earning five Hugo nominations along the way. And when it came time for me to edit Science Fiction Age, and later Science Fiction Weekly, he became a frequent book review contributor.

When we last spoke, just a few months ago at the Kansas City Worldcon, we reminisced about Discon II, the 1974 Worldcon which had been the first for both of us. I’d hoped to see him again at Capclave next weekend. Instead, I’ll be taking his place on a panel there about book reviewing, when I’d much rather have been in the audience hearing him talk on the subject. He was a nice guy, an excellent critic, and will be greatly missed.

For more details about Doug, check out his entry at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

In honor of Luke Cage, which debuted today as a Netflix series, and in memory of my young teen years as an annoying fan with a sketchbook, may I present a drawing done for me by Billy Graham, the legendary artist who drew that character for Marvel Comics in the ’70s.


Though I’d eventually come to know Graham as a fellow creator at Marvel, this undated drawing was done long before then, likely in 1972, or at the latest, 1973, back when I was just another pleading kid.

We never got particularly close later during my comics pro years, so he was just an acquaintance with whom I’d have the occasional conversation, but whenever our paths did cross in the Bullpen, he was friendly, and seemed like a nice guy.

I wish he could have seen the character to whom he’d contributed so much get this level of attention, but alas, he died in 1999.


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

As I told you before, I ate a lot of BBQ during this year’s Worldcon in Kansas City. Unsurprisingly, four of those meals became episodes of Eating the Fantastic. The first of those four, and one of my favorites, was recorded at Danny Edwards Blvd Barbecue. (Danny Edwards’ family, BTW, has been barbecuing in Kansas City since 1938.)

I was joined for lunch there by writer David D. Levine, who won the Hugo Award for his story “Tk’tk’tk,” and whose debut novel novel Arabella of Mars had been published the month more.


We talked about the things being a science fiction fan for so long taught him about being a professional science fiction writer, what it was like contributing to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe after having read the series since Day One, how pretending to live on Mars for two weeks helped him write his newly published novel Arabella of Mars, and much more.

Here’s how you can share the BBQ—Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

The latest iteration of Capclave is only 11 days away! So it’s about time I let you know where you’ll be able to find me at this Gaithersburg, Maryland con.


Here’s the programming they’ve assigned me, as well of the names of the co-conspirators with whom I’ll be making mischief.

Well Worn Classics
Friday, October 7, 5:00 p.m.
Some science fiction classics are so steeped in the time they were written, they are painful to read now. In some ways, getting the technology wrong is secondary to getting the sociology wrong, as when sexism and racism rear their now-ugly heads. What classic novels show their age but are still a pleasure to read, and which make us wince?
Panelists: Scott Edelman, Barbara Krasnoff (M), Karen Wester Newton, Lee Strong

Saturday, October 8, 11:00 a.m.

Literary Inspirations
Saturday, October 8, 1:00 p.m.
What author’s works have influenced, inspired and even just amused the panelists.
Panelists: Scott Edelman, J. J. Smith, Lee Strong, Joan Wendland

Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers
Saturday, October 8, 3:00 p.m.
The panel will discuss both writing and promotional mistakes: How writers have screwed themselves over and killed their chances of making it in the publishing world by doing easily preventable things.
Panelists:Scott H. Andrews, Marilyn “Mattie” Brahen, Scott Edelman, Bjorn Hasseler, Hildy Silverman

Plus—I hope to record a few new episodes of Eating the Fantastic during the weekend.

Hope to see you there!


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Just as I foretold, I spent Friday and Saturday participating in the Baltimore Book Festival. And I even have proof. See?


My name on the program board at the Science Fiction Writers of America tent!

I took part in four programming items—here I am (in a photo taken by Sam J. Miller) with Lara Elena Donnelly as I pontificate on Friday’s “The Future of Science Fiction & Fantasy” panel.


I had a great deal of fun hanging out with friends and interacting with readers, so much so I regret I didn’t stay on for today’s third day of the festival. And as usual, a lot of the fun took place outside the confines of the official event itself.Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I was reading the December 1916 issue of The Scoop (as one does), a magazine “written by newspaper men for newspaper men,” which is filled with fascinating anecdotes about the way the world was for journalists 100 years ago, when I came across a reminder that the technology we think of as essential often … isn’t.


A full-page ad which appears on the back cover decries the fact Congress appropriated funds for continued mail delivery by pneumatic tubes in New York City, but failed to do the same for Chicago. According to the ad (which is unsigned, so is apparently more of an editorial), there were 10 miles of two-way, eight-inch tubes running under Chicago at the time which delivered 8,000,000 pieces of mail daily.

In response to the idea that mail should instead be delivered by trucks rather than pneumatic tubes, the question is asked, “If we are going backward, why not get a wheelbarrow?”


“Any change,” insists the author of this piece, “would be calamitous.”

Well, here we are, a century later, and that calamity never came.

Which makes me wonder … what technology do we hold dear today, and insist we could not live without, will a century from now seem as quaint as pneumatic tubes do today?


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

During Readercon, you got to share Thai food with Resa Nelson, eat a full Irish breakfast with Jeffrey Ford, and down donuts with a parade of 15 writers, editors, and fans. Now it’s time to say farewell to Readercon with a visit to The Lobster Stop in Quincy, Massachusetts for (what else?) lobster rolls … and F. Brett Cox.

Brett co-edited (with former Eating the Fantastic guest Andy Duncan) Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic (which featured a story about Randy Newman by yours truly!), and has had fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews appear in Eclipse Online, War Stories, Century, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Postscripts, and many other venues. He’s also hard at work on a book-length study of Roger Zelazny for the University of Illinois Press.


Over lobster rolls, we talked of the debate we witnessed between Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison in 1974 at our joint first Worldcon, how the Connie Willis story “A Letter from the Clearys” made the scales fall from his eyes, why George Saunders is his “favorite contemporary American short story writer,” and more.

Here’s how you can grab a seat at the table—Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I visited yesterday with a friend who’s winnowing down his book collection, and as we reviewed what remained on his shelves, we reminisced about those we’d both read a long time ago, including favorites by the likes of James H. Schmitz and Harry Harrison. He loved them so much he couldn’t bear to part with them.

But there was one book he was hanging on to not because it was so good, but because it was so bad.

He called Vanguard to Venus, by Jeffery Lloyd Castle, the worst science fiction novel he’d ever read.


I’d never heard of the 1957 novel or its author, but one thing was clear—whatever the quality of the words between the covers, the book’s back cover blurb was one of the best I’d ever read.

Check out its bold claims, including an ALL CAPS pronouncement that science fiction is “an exciting and imaginative NEW FORM OF LITERATURE that is attracting literally tens of thousands of new readers every year.”


How could you not love a blurb like that?


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I hate eating in hotel restaurants, but never more so than when I’m trying to record an episode of Eating the Fantastic.

Not only does the food there tend to rise only to the level of the merely edible (if you’re lucky), but breakfast during a convention means many interruptions as the usual tablehopping occurs, with people popping by to say hi. Plus you get no sense of place, as one hotel restaurant is pretty much like another, especially when it comes to breakfast.

So when it came time to seek out a good setting in Quincy, Massachusetts to chat during Readercon with six-time World Fantasy Award-winning and three-time Shirley Jackson Award-winning writer Jeffrey Ford, whose new short story collection A Natural History of Hell was recently published by Small Beer Press, I looked for something off-site and more authentic.

And found it in McKay’s Breakfast and Lunch. When I read a review about “a popular townie joint” that served food which was “simple and straightforward (no creme brulee French toast or maple ganache cinnamon bread here),” I knew I’d discovered a spot with some character. So that’s where I took Jeff.


We talked about how being edited by Jennifer Brehl made him a better writer, what it was like to be taught by the legendary John Gardner, why he admitted “I don’t really know dick about science fiction or fantasy,” and much more.

Here’s how you can join us—Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

The Kansas City Worldcon is fast receding in the rearview mirror, but one more backward-looking post is called for before we let it all go, I think, especially because it concerns not only 2016—but 1992. As I was packing last month for MidAmeriCon II, where Pat Cadigan was scheduled to be our Hugo Awards ceremony Toastmaster, I remembered an artifact from long ago and far away which I thought would amuse her.

Luckily, I was able to find it deep within the Edelman Vault, and so some of you on site might have seen me wearing this.


What’s it all about? Why was Pat a Woman of Destiny at MagicCon, the 1992 Worldcon? What was ClariNet? What was the Library of Tomorrow? And why was there a button about all that? Ah, come closer, padawan, and I shall tell you …Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

30 August 2016 @ 08:55 pm

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

Because one cannot live on BBQ alone, even when that BBQ is from Kansas City, I didn’t only eat burnt ends during my Worldcon trip, though I might have made it appear that way. I also wanted to experience the fine dining side of Kansas City at least once. So after a bit of research, I chose Bluestem, where Chef Colby Garrelts had won the 2013 James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest.

And based on what I experienced with Ellen Datlow, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Pat Murphy, and my wife, I could easily understand why.

We chose the three-course dinner option—though if we’d wished, we could have gone for meals of five or ten courses. It was not a set tasting menu, in we had multiple choices for each course, so aside from the amuse-bouche and mignardises below, everything else represents my dishes alone, not those of my companions.

But believe me, we all left happy.

Amuse-bouche: Saffron arancini

AranciniBlueStemRead the rest of this entry »Collapse )


Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I loved, loved, loved last year’s Baltimore Book Festival, and not just because I had an opportunity to spend time with some of my favorite science fiction and fantasy folks on the planet. I was also able to meet new people, people I wouldn’t ordinarily have met as I travelled the convention circuit, because the event wasn’t a closed con that required payment to enter, but rather a way of interacting with the general public. That is—anyone who might choose to wander the Inner Harbor over a long Autumn weekend.

So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to do it all over again.


The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America arranged a full weekend of programming September 23-25—orchestrated by local writer Sarah Pinsker—and you can see our complete schedule here. But since you showed up on this page looking for info about my appearances, here’s where you’ll be able to find, well, me.

Book Speed Dating
Friday, September 23, 11:00 a.m.
Our authors have a minute to tell you about one of their books and the perfect book to go with it. What could possibly go wrong? Find your next favorite book!
Authors: DH Aire, Lara Elena Donnelly, Scott Edelman, Addison Gunn, and more.

The Future of Science Fiction & Fantasy
Friday, September 23, 3:00 p.m.
Genre bending fiction, new frontiers, self publishing. Science fiction and fantasy are quickly changing, so what is on the horizon? Join us as we discuss where we are and where we are going.
Authors: Lara Elena Donnelly, Scott Edelman, Addison Gunn, Larry Hodges, Justina Ireland.

Second Breakfast & Snozzberries: Food in SF & Fantasy
Saturday, September 24, 5:00 p.m.
Sensory details are the hallmark of great science fiction and fantasy, and nothing brings that home quite like the food! Join our panelists as they discuss food in their favorite books. We guarantee you’ll leave hungry.
Authors: Cinda Williams Chima, Lara Elena Donnelly, Scott Edelman, Anna Kashina, Fran Wilde, K. Ceres Wright

Meet the Authors Party
Saturday, September 24, 6:00 p.m.
Rub elbows with your new favorite science fiction and fantasy authors at this annual event!

Hope to see you there!

25 August 2016 @ 10:07 am

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

I seem to have a way of finding art. Or rather—art seems to have a way of finding me.

Back in 2008, I told you how I’d found an abandoned painting leaning against one of the famous lions at the main branch of the New York Public Library, and later learned that artist Kael Cabral did that sort of street project a lot. It was a joyful thing to have occurred, and I never expected to make such a serendipitous discovery again.

Then came the Kansas City Worldcon.

As I waited a little over a week ago to be picked up by my Uber, I happened to look behind me and spot this small painting leaning against the outer glass wall by the airport exit. I was intrigued. Could I have encountered a second example of free street art?


An examination of the 5″ x 7″ piece showed—yes, I could!Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )